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DIY floppy drive echo and delay

Submitted by on April 23, 2010 – 9:40 am 2 Comments

Daniel McAnulty is an electronic music composer, device maker, song writer, photographer, and general all around useful fellow from Oakland, CA. Daniel has come up with the ultimate in DIY audio effects: He’s figured out how, using some pretty basic electronics, to turn a regular floppy drive into a controllable tape-style delay and echo/reverb.

The audio is written to the spinning disk, and then read back using a regular tape head. He then can use Arduino to control the stepping and record functions. Daniel explains:

My goal with this project was at first to make new kind of tape delay that is cheap, robust and easy to build yourself. It quickly became clear that the most interesting aspects are completely unrelated to traditional tape delay systems – random access, movable heads, simultaneous forward and reverse, changable loop size on the fly, easy automation etc. etc.

Here’s a schematic of his setup:

Here it is in action, with Daniel manually performing the functions of the arduino in the picture above, stepping through the ‘tracks’. Think of it like a record with a number of locked grooves:

The floppy system entails an interesting blend of digital and analog electronics that makes it a very educational project for anybody interested in bridging the two worlds.

For a more complete system that works with continuous recording of an input signal just like a tape delay, the circuit gets just a little bit more complicated:

And here’s what it sounds like:

Very cool indeed. I only wish that the audio was recorded directly so we didn’t have to listen to the sound of the drive itself.

If you want one of these, you’ll have to build it yourself for the time being, but Daniel says that if he gets enough requests, he’ll start producing them for sale. Leave a comment below if you’re interested and we’ll pass on your name.

SynthGear Tags

  • diy tape delay
  • floppy disk delay
  • low cost cuircuit diagram guitar echo reverb
  • delay floppy disk
  • diy echo schematic


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